Fun things to do in South Dakota

  • Lincoln and Washington at Mt Rushmore
    Lincoln and Washington at Mt Rushmore
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  • Jefferson at Mt Rushmore
    Jefferson at Mt Rushmore
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  • Roosevelt at Mt. Rushmore
    Roosevelt at Mt. Rushmore
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Most Viewed Things to Do in South Dakota

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    1880 Train!

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 26, 2004

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    This was a really neat experience and couldn't had asked for more beautiful weather. This historical 1880 train is located both in "Hill City" and "Keystone" so you can go back and forth from here if you choose or just stay on it and ride back where you came from. Lost of beautiful scenery to be seen and just sit back and enjoy! Lost of history related with this train and the conductor shares all the wonderful tales.

    My favorite is when "Calamity Jane" would ride the train often to get back and forth from Hill camp to Keystone camp back then and she didn't always have the fair. They always gladly passed the hat around for her and everyone was always welcome to share.
    See, there has been many tall tales spoken about her, but the truth was she was caring individual and who risked her life as a stagecoach driver, pony express rider and especially during the smallpox epidemic in 1878 that she choose to help and nurse those striken. The locals never forgot this.
    Calamity Jane her words!

    The train trip takes approximately 2 hours.
    Be aware if you sit outside, you will be pelted very lightly with coal pellets. Don't dismay, just stand up and brush them lightly.

    The schedule varies because of the climate so you may want to check it out:
    1880 Train Schedule

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    Crazy Horse Memorial

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 16, 2005

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    The Crazy Horse Memorial is a nonprofit project toward the education and dedication to the Native Americans of this grand state.

    Since 1948, sculpture Korczak Ziolkowski wanted to dedicate a memorial to a man he must have really admire to want to build such a momument and undertaking this massive project on his own. To me, this says alot about this man, and how Crazy Horse must had said a lot to him.

    "My lands are where my dead lie buried!" those words have spoken volumes to many generations and its because of those generations that Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski wanted to honor. Honoring Crazy Horses and the legacy these two great men leave behind.

    There is lots to see here, plus a wonderful museum and giftshop. So please come by and see the progess of this wonderful momunment.

    Hours of Operation
    The Memorial opens at 7:00 a.m. during the summer months and closes shortly after the night lighting ceremony, approximately 9:00 p.m.
    The Memorial is open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. during the winter months.

    Regular family admission fees
    $9.00 - Adults - Under 6-years of age - FREE
    $20.00 - Carload (whichever is better for you)

    Senior Rates
    $8.00 a person - Under 6-years of age - FREE
    $18.00 a carload (whichever is better for you)

    Motorcycles
    $4.00 a rider

    Walkers/Bicycles
    $3.50 each

    Tour group rates available
    Call group sales (605) 673-4681

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    • Historical Travel
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    Beautiful Rushmore Caves

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 17, 2004

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    This is a wonderful place to see some of the area's finest stalactite cave, stalagmites, ribbons, helectities, and so many other beautiful formations that only mother nature can produce. I throughly enjoyed this tour. The guides were great and informative. It was so wonderous to see such beauty from so far below. Approx. a 1 hours tour too!

    I was very afraid about entering the tour, because they warn visitors it is very close quarters. I didn't not want to disappoint John, but didn't want to ruin the tour if I need to go back.

    Great Tip for those who don't like close quarters: Stay in the very back of the tour. I did this and I was completely fine. It helped feel like I had room to breath from the others. It's funny, the tour guide said he was going to remember this when he gets others, so they can stay part of the tours. He said he had so many that couldn't continue.

    All Ages Welcome
    Adults (13yrs+): $8.50
    Children (5 - 12yrs): $5.00
    Children (4 and under): Free
    Discounts are available for AAA, AARP, Active Duty Military.
    Coupons are found in many local tourism publications.

    Hours of Operation and Tour Schedule
    8 am to 8 pm - June, July and August.
    9 am to 5 pm May, September and October.

    The guiding principle is that no visitor shall wait more than 20 minutes.
    Average waiting time is 10 minutes or less.
    When things get busy they schedule additional tours to meet visitor flow.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology

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    Hill City

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 17, 2004

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    Hill City boasts as the second community to be established in the Black Hills in 1875. What a neat little town. We enjoyed our stay here and enjoyed the show they put on for visitors. They reenacted a stage coach robbery with a gun fight that followed. Kind of comical, but enjoyed. We just moseyed around and took in the sites and ventured into what gift stores they had. Hill City is also know for one of the Blacks Hills best Institute of Geological Research and where "Sue" the most complete T. Rex specimen was discovered.

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    Historical Ruby House Restaurant Keystone

    by Yaqui Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Over a hundred years ago Ruby Tucker the proprietress had a fine taste for elegance and would bring back with her from the east exquisite furniture and fine china to the Ruby House. It will take you back in time when this area was wild with buffalo hunters, gamblers, and gunfighters.

    We had a very enjoyable meal here in the evening and in the afternoon wondered back in here for one of their famous sarsaparillas. Very lovely building, but was very busy and crowded. Still worth the trip to Keystone to see this wonderful historical building and to enjoy the activities that surrounds it.

    To my dismay from an internet article, this wonderful building was destroyed from a terrible fire, but I see they have rebuilt her to her original order....yay!

    Ruby House hours are 11AM - 4PM for lunch and 4PM - 9PM for dinner, Daily.
    The Red Garter Saloon is open from 11AM - 1AM, Daily.

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    Mount Rushmore National Memorial

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 16, 2004

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    Mount Rushmore pays honor to our most revered Presidents of their time George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt and Abraham "Honest Abe" Lincoln. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum tackles the feat of carving into the 5,725 foot mountain in 1927. It took 14 years and $1 million later the Shrine of Democracy was created for all to see and enjoy. There are wonderfully done exhibits, restaurant, gift shop and an amphitheater too. The Rangers give a wonderful presentation of an evening sculpture lighting ceremony too!

    Oh the best "Tip" I can give. Go down to the amphitheater because at that time, it was not crowded and you got a better advantage of taking some great pictures. They have the so called picture taking terrace and it is nice. Yet, to me, go to the amphitheater.

    Mount Rushmore Information Center

    Open
    Winter - 7 days a week (October/March) 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Summer - 7days a week (May/August) 8:00 am - 10:00 pm

    Location
    Located at the entrance to the memorial from the parking structure.

    Closures
    Spring and fall hours may vary. Closed December 25

    Lincoln Borglum Museum
    Open All Year
    Winter - 7 days a week (October/March) 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Summer - 7days a week (May/August) 8:00 am - 10:00 pm

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    Indian Museum of North America & Cultural Center

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 17, 2004

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    This museum was designed by Korczak and built by him and his family during the winter months in 1972-73. It was dedicated on Memorial Day May 30, 1973. It started out with only a single display donated by Charles Eder Assiniboine-Souix from Montana and remains as in a place of honor in the orientation and communication center at the memorial.

    The museum as grown over the years with collections lovingly donated by Native Americans and non-Native Americans to be share and appreciated by all those that visit the facility. This center serves one main purpose and that is to education the public of the importance of all beautiful different cultures.

    Hours of Operation
    The Memorial opens at 7:00 a.m. during the summer months and closes shortly after the night lighting ceremony, approximately 9:00 p.m.

    The Memorial is open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. during the winter months.

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    Keystone - The Home of Mount Rushmore

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 17, 2004

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    Like most towns in this area, came to be because of the gold mines and camps were set up. It soon was named in 1891after the gold mine called Keystone and became a official town as mining boomed and people flooded in to make it their home.

    This is a very historical city that all should venture too and take in the sights. Has lots of wonderful restaurants, giftshops and hotels. This is where the wonderful historical Ruby House Restaurant is located.

    There are so many activities to do and see here to mention:-))

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    SYLVAN LAKE

    by mtncorg Updated Mar 26, 2004

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    Just southeast of Harney Peak, Sylvan Lake is one of the more popular areas of Custer State Park. The area around the lake is an appendage off the main Park, connected by a narrow corridor around the Needles Highway - SD 87. The lake is very popular with campers, picnickers, and swimmers. There is a beautiful lodge - the Sylvan Lake Lodge - where you can stay if you didn't bring your tent. The most popular trail - besides the one going around the lake - is marked by tree blazes with the number '9' - starting here and topping out atop Harney Peak in three miles.

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    JEWEL CAVE NATIONAL MONUMENT

    by mtncorg Updated Mar 26, 2004

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    As beautiful or more so than its national park neighbor to the east - Wind Cave - Jewel Cave has been protected since 1908 - when only 1/2 miel had been explored. Today, with over 100 miles explored, the cave contains some of the most extensive collections of calcite crystals found. Other rare cave formations include helictites, popcorn, frostwork, scintillites, gypsum flowers, hydromagnesite balloons and moonmilk. Three tours are available: the 1/2 mile, 700 staired Scenic Tour takes in many of the cave's beautiful formations in slightly over an hour; the 1/2 mile, 1 3/4 hour Historic Tour shows you passages from the light of a candle lantern - lots of steps, bending and crouching; the 1/2 mile 4 hour Spelunking Tour gives the visitor a taste of modern cave exploration - boots, old clothes, gloves recommended with the Park supplying the hardhat and headlamps. The latter tour is not for children 15 or younger (16-17 year olds need parental permission) and is run only from mid-June to mid-August. The additional qualifier is you must show them your fortitude by crawling through a concrete 8 1/2 inch x 24 inch tunnel first before being allowed on the tour. Here, the cave temperature is a constant chilly 47F.

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    CUSTER STATE PARK

    by mtncorg Updated Mar 26, 2004

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    This is South Dakota's outdoor gem, occupying a large chunk of the eastern area of the Black Hills. Several lakes can be found in the park: Sylvan, Center, Legion, Stockade. Fishing is very popular. Ponds and creeks were stocked for President Calvin Coolidges summer visit in 1927, ensuring good presidential luck. The Needles Highway - SD 87 - connecting the Sylvan Lake area with the main areas of the park, is especially scenic, winding past the Cathedral Spires, but it is the Wildlife Loop Road that is the true jewel of the Park. This road makes a large 3/4 loop - completed on the north by US16A and on the west by SD 87 - through forests to vast grassy plains. Along the road, huge herds of buffalo can be seen, one of the very few areas where you can get some sense of what it used to be - vast herds of bison grassy among the endless praries.

    $5 /person or $12/vehicle for 7 days.

    Related to:
    • Camping
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    • National/State Park

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    Badlands

    by Alicja1 Written Mar 12, 2004

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    Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. This is The Oglala Sioux Tribe sacret place where the Gost Dance Ceremony was conducted since years. Since 1978 this place is registered as a "National Park" in 1978. Native pople said that "Whites" took them The Black Hills, the heart of America and gave them Bad Lands in return. But finally it came in that Badlands contains lots of resources and historical signs (fosils)

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    CATHEDRAL SPIRES

    by mtncorg Updated Mar 26, 2004

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    Rising sharply out of the forests of the Black Hills, the Cathedral Spires loom just off the Needles Highway - SD 87. Trails take you up among the spires, also popular with rock climbers. The Needles Highway is a very scenic road linking up the Sylvan Lake area with the rest of Custer State Park. Also, paths give you access to the summit of Harney Peak, which at 7242 feet, is Douth Dakota's highest point. Motorists should be aware of very tight tunnels along the Needles Highway - some as low as 10 feet 8 inches and as narrow as 8 feet 7 inches.

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    • Hiking and Walking
    • Motorcycle

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    HARNEY PEAK

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Early in the morning or late in the afternoon are both great times to be atop Harney Peak - 7242 feet high, the rooftop of South Dakota. The trails are not difficult, rising through forests from trailheads at Sylvan Lake, Cathedral Peaks and Little Devil's Tower. A small fire suppression reservoir and lookout are found atop the peak. Views extend over much of the Black Hills to the south west and north; to the east, you can see forever across the Great Plains towards the Badlands.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Mountain Climbing

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    Wounded Knee

    by Alicja1 Written Mar 12, 2004

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    "There is nothing to conceal or apologize for in the Wounded Knee Battle - beyond the killing of a wounded buck by a hysterical recruit. The firing was begun by the Indians and continued until they stopped - with the one exception noted above." - there is nothing more I can say about it. The Wounded Knee Massacre was a terrible thing in Native and American people history.
    Also modern history of the Indian fight with FBI is very touchfull.

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South Dakota Things to Do

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